My trusted old friend, ( Canon 40D ) is retired.

20th August 2011
There is always a sort of ornithological hiatus at this time of the year which makes me reflect on a few things, so I thought I would write a few words on my hobby, I'm not getting on a soapbox but it's nice to air a few thoughts now and again;

After many months of deliberation I have now bought a Canon 7D, I had to think long and hard because I have never been someone who chases technology in the vain hope that buying better equipment makes you a better photographer because it most definitely does not! You have to have a healthy dose of realism, which I'm glad to say I have developed over the years which keeps my feet on the ground and hopefully my bank balance healthy. However, there comes a time and I felt that the time had come. With the 7D I immediately noticed that the auto focusing is far superior to the 40D. This is a big advantage for moving subjects, which birds usually are. Also the much greater resolution of the 7D's sensor should reproduce more detail, we will see on that score. I will always have good memories of using the 40D, I used it in all conditions and it absolutely never let me down. I will also keep my Canon 1D Mk 2, it's built like a tank, very rapid auto focus, 8 frames/second and full auto focus up to f8.0. You can still pick them up and they are still a very good buy!
Getting good images is all about manipulation of the available light, having an eye for a composition and doing your homework on the subject. With a bird that just drops in, you have to think on your feet but if a bird eg a Kingfisher is your target, then find out where it's favourite perches are, they are very much creatures of habit. Go to it's habitat and spend an hour or two just watching. A kingfisher will go to it's favourite perches at first light to get its breakfast. it's just like us going to the fridge for the milk for our first cup of tea. A kingfisher I was watching on the River Usk just outside Brecon always pitched on an old supermarket trolley that had been thrown in the river, because the small pool just below it always had some little Minnows swimming around. Make sure you know the angle of the sun at the particular time you are going to be there and how its light falls on the area you want to photograph. If the situation with the light is not favourable, because of a shadow or another obstruction, then create another perch, take an nice branch with you and fix it on the river bank a few days before to get the bird used to it. One thing I must mention is, in the spring, while these, or indeed any other birds are breeding, just leave them alone. They will still be in their habitat in September and hopefully with some young birds. The moral of the story is just get the basics right and success will follow, but in my experience be prepared for disappointment at first and the success afterwards will more than make up for it.